It seems like more and more subscription services are popping up every day with everything from streaming services to food deliveries. People love the convenience of getting something every month and not having to reorder it. But there is no question that all of these seemingly small service charges quickly add up and easily drain your bank account. You should go through your subscriptions and determine which ones that you really need and which ones entice you to spend more money than you actually have.
Subscriptions Services Really Drain Your Wallet
Online services with free 30 day trials often persuade people to sign up for something they know they don't want. They plan on canceling after that awesome movie premiere they streamed or that free download, but most people get slapped with a monthly charge before remembering to cancel. Before you sign up, ask yourself, "Do you seriously need 200 cable channels, or could you handle having the basic package? Can you wait to watch something free on YouTube with the inconvenience of a few advertisements?"
A five-dollar monthly fee for videos, a ten-dollar charge for e-books, a subscription fee for the latest yoga workouts all quickly adds up. Take a look at your recent bank statements and figure out exactly how many monthly subscriptions you are paying for each month. Television packages, magazines, and software services all make life a little easier, but you don't really need most of them.
Common Subscription Services
Some subscription services have become such an integral part of life that people view them as needs. The following are some common subscription services that you can probably live without and save yourself some cash. It may just take a bit of adjustment to find some alternatives.
- Online gaming services like Xbox Live.
- A cable package. There are lots of ways to entertain yourself without television. HBO and Showtime cost $10-$15 each. Cutting out that subscription saves a lot of money over time.
- A gym membership that you never use or an online workout streaming service.
- Netflix Premium. Save yourself $5 per month and watch the free movies online.
- Music streaming services like Spotify, Amazon Music, and Pandora.
- Fitness tracking software service like Fitbit premium. There was a time when no one tracked their fitness. Your scale can let you know if you are making progress with your efforts.
- Amazon Prime. You can save $119 per year if you are willing to order your goods from alternative sources and wait an extra day or two for delivery.
- Food meal prep boxes like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron. The food can often be purchased cheaper from the grocery store or even the farmer's market.
- Credit monitoring services. While it is important to know your credit score, unless you buy a house, rent an apartment, or purchase a car, it isn't necessary to monitor it daily.
- Cloud storage services. Are you really storing extensive information in the cloud? If not, you could save the information on your hard drive.
- Identity theft monitoring. Many banks are monitoring spending patterns and will alert you if there are unexpected charges.
- Online magazines like The Wall Street Journal or The Washington Post. You may be able to read similar articles online from a variety of other websites.
- Food delivery services like DoorDash and Grubhub. There is a $9.99 membership fee for unlimited free deliveries, but then you end up spending more on delivered food than you normally would.
- Warehouse memberships like Costco and Sams Club. If you start to examine the prices you are paying, you can often find better deals in the sales at your local supermarket.
You may want to do a bit of math on some of these services before canceling the subscription. For example, if you do a significant amount of shopping at a warehouse, add up the savings and see if it exceeds your spending on the membership. An online magazine service that helps you invest better may be worth keeping, but check to see if your investment returns increase due to the recommendations. Never assume.
Monitor Your Spending
Subscription services are just one area of spending that can easily get out of control. You may have other charges that add up and deplete your funds. It is important to monitor your spending regularly and ensure that you aren't paying for unnecessary items.
You can log into your bank account and scroll through the charges that you currently have, but it may be easier to create a free account with Thinkflow and let us analyze your past transactions and identify spending patterns. We create a projection of your cash flow that takes into account your recurring income and bills. The visual charts make it easy to see where your money is going. Thinkflow will also alert you with tips and suggestions when we see a problem arise in your spending patterns. Tackling the challenge of tracking your spending doesn't have to be a huge chore. Thinkflow can make it much easier.